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Sun

04

Nov

2007

Hanging Ten on a water-board - Don't Ask, Don't Tell, SHOW!
Sunday, 04 November 2007 14:45
by Stephen P. Pizzo

There seem to be folks on the right who remain unclear on the concept — not the least among them, Attorney General nominee, Michael Mukasey.

The concept they can't seem to get a firm fix on is whether or not the interrogation technique known as "water-boarding," — making a person think he or she is being drowned — is or is not "torture."


I don't know about you, but it sure as hell sounds like torture to me. But there are still those in this administration and Congress who support the technique and claim it is not torture.

I have a solution.

But first let's see how humanity has chosen to describe something that does qualify as torture:

Websters:
Torture is any action taken against another person that causes, "anguish of body or mind agony: something that causes agony or pain. Anguish: "extreme pain, distress, or anxiety."
The International Red Cross:
Torture: existence of a specific purpose plus intentional infliction of severe suffering or pain;
MedTerms medical dictionary:
Torture: An act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person, for a purpose such as obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation or coercion..."

When asked during his confirmation hearings if water-boarding was torture, Mukasey said he couldn't really say, since he was not familiar with the details of the technique. Which is a kinda hard to swallow since the technique has been described in excruciating detail in the popular press since it first burst into the national consciousness a couple of years ago — thanks to Vlad the Hoser at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

But all the publicity surrounding water-boarding seems to have left at least some public officials on the right unclear on whether it's torture or not torture. Some seem to feel that water-boarding is no more cruel than forcing a cat to take a bath.

Which is why I've concluded the only solution is to stop telling and start showing. And what better way to get a handle on the concept than for those who support the technique to step up to the plate and declare, "I say water-boarding is not a form of torture, as described by national and international law. And. to prove it I am submitting myself to the process."

Let the learning begin!

And what better place to hold water-boarding demonstrations than a well — the well of House and the well of the US Senate.

Proponents who claim water-boarding is not torture because it "causes no physical injuries, leaves no marks and causes no permanent harm," should therefore have no problem, right? Climb on the water-board and take a spin.

But, there's more than just a quick demo. For this demonstration to be useful it must be a genuine interrogation in every way possible. That means not only using the same equipment used at Gitmo and other secret interrogation centers, but the same assumptions. Those the CIA water-board are assumed to know something useful or to possess secrets.

So the members of Congress and administration who agree to be water-boarded must also be assumed to hold a secret. Otherwise it's not an interrogation. Since it has to be an incriminating secret let's make it so.

"Have you ever cheated on your spouse?"

Maybe none of them ever cheated on their spouse, just as some of the people the CIA have water-boarded were not terrorists after all. But hey, guilty people always deny guilt when first asked, so one must ask repeatedly, water-board them repeatedly until they cough up the assumption(s) — true or otherwise.

Here's how I imagine these demonstration sessions would go:
Senator Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is strapped to a water-board in the well of the Senate. Interrogators lay a terry cloth towel over his face, lean the board back and begin pouring copious amounts of water over the towel. As the towel becomes soaked Senator McConnell finds it impossible to breathe. He coughs, then starts choking. He tries to turn his head to each side but blocks prevent it. He struggles but his hands and legs are strapped to the board. He suddenly realizes he's on for the full ride.

Just as the Senator appears ready to black out, the two interrogators remove the towel and raise the board. A doctor checks the Senators' pulse and blood pressure. In a couple of seconds McConnell is coughing, spitting and breathing again.

The senator opens his eyes showing real panic as they dart from side to side.

Interrogator: "Have you ever cheated on your wife?."

Sen. McConnell: "No, no, really, I never did. Never did. So, fine. I see how it works. Now please untie me."

Interrogator: "Ah, not in the mood to talk yet. Okay, have it your way, Senator. Jack, lower the board again."

Sen. McConnell: "Whoa fellas! Not again. No. Wait. Please wait. Okay. Fine. Yes, yes, sure I cheated. Yep I did. Now untie me."

Interrogator: "Not so fast, partner. All you've told us so far is that — as we suspected — you cheated on your wife. Now we need to know how many times and with whom."

Sen. McConnell: "Okay guys, this has gone far enough. I get the point. It's torture. People will say anything to get you to stop. Okay. I get it. Whatya want me to say and I'll say it. Now let me off this damn board."

Interrogator: Oh, I wish it was that easy, Senator. But when we water-board suspected terrorists we are told we must connect the dots. You remember connecting the dots, don't you? If we let everyone off for giving us a nugget or two, well, that wouldn't do at all, now would it? We have to finish our interrogation. Now, one more time Senator, how many times did you cheat and we want names."

Senator McConnell: "Never and with nobody. This is stupid!. I just said that so you'd untie me."

Interrogator: "Okay Jack, lower the board."

Senator McConnell: No, no, NO! Wait. Okay. Many times. More than I can count. You wanna know with who? Okay, I did Madeline Albright, Helen Keller, Mother Teresa, (twice, missionary position, of course,) — Ophra, Jackie Kennedy.... ah, all the DC Madams' hookers and, one night — while Larry Craig and I were out drinking — a strangely attractive ewe.

Now, let me go!

The Senator is released.

"None of what I said was true," McConnell shouts when free. "None of that would stand up in a court of law."

The interrogator slaps his assistant on the back and laughs.

"A trial? Ha. We don't need no stinkin' trials in our line of work, Senator. Okay, who's up next?"

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe McConnell, Mukasey and others who doubt that water-boarding is torture might take repeating dousings without spelling any beans, true or otherwise. And, when their interrogators finally give up, they'll hop off the table and declare their faces have never felt more fresh and clean. Some might even cut back in line for a second ride.

If that happens I'll happily admit I was wrong — water-boarding isn't torture after all.

But before I can come to that conclusion I need those who say it ain't so to put their own nervous systems where their mouths are.

I'm still waiting — though I won't hold my breath. (Pun intended)

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